Does NATO best serve US and EU strategic interests?

Posted on | juni 14, 2011 | No Comments

The product of the early Cold War and US containment policy intended to forge a military sphere of influence that was also a political and economic sphere west of the Iron Curtain and south of the ‘Northern Tier’ (Greece, Turkey and Iran), NATO became obsolete with German re-unification and the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless, the US decided to breathe life into NATO by launching the ‘war on terror’ – in essence a neo-colonial wars against Islamic nations that hold the geopolitical balance of power between East and West. Thus, the anachronistic strategic perception goes with entrenched agencies interested in perpetuating themselves by having an enemy to fight, with defense contractors pushing their products, with politicians selling glory and patriotism instead of delivering bread and butter to voters.

More than two years ago, I suggested that NATO does not best serve US or EU interests, but it could be useful if US and EU permitted both Russia and Israel to become members. On face value that may appear as a strange idea, but in reality such possibilities have been discussed, though nothing has come of these scenarios. Exactly why is the American and European (as well as Turkish) taxpayer subsidizing NATO? So that the US can save face in the lost war of Afghanistan, so that the US, UK, and France can replace Gaddafi with another dictator more to their liking, so that they can threaten (contain) Iran, so that they can continue to use NATO as leverage against energy-rich Russia, so that they can maintain an expensive sixty year-old bureaucracy that wants to keep its privileges, so that the defense industries keep raking in profits?

Now that he is leaving, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asked NATO allies to share more of the burden. But why did he wait until now, or is Obama trying to be slick with his NATO partners by using Gates to send a message that US has had enough and it will not continue to bleed money for this useless monster whose record is one of questionable deterrence than effective accomplishment. US and EU are swimming in public debt, and NATO is a luxury they cannot afford, simply because the Muslim dominoes do not fall any more orderly than the Communist ones of the Vietnam era. Military solutions make about as much sense as burning money to keep warm in blowing storm!

There is no shortage of ‘military experts’ selling advice as independent contractors.

  1. Some recommend NATO reinvent itself as an alliance for “hard” combat assignments;
  2. that it become somehow attached to UN peacekeeper missions, and/or “soft” power “humanitarian-type’ operations;
  3. that NATO become a support group in various activities from procurement, training, logistics, etc.;
  4. that it become useful – by implication this is an admission that NATO is fairly ineffective – returning to its early Cold War mission, but focused on Islamic terrorism;
  5. that Europe put more money money into NATO and stop undermining it with its tight defense budgets that have fallen 15% in the last decade;
  6. that the US is spending too much on defense and seeking costly military solutions to political conflicts, thus forcing the Atlantic alliance partners to follow along. After all, NATO was invented to protect Europe that no longer needs protection, thus it no longer needs NATO.

Diverging US-EU political, economic and strategic interests make NATO obsolete, but no one has the vision and strong leadership to stand up and propose abolishing NATO. With the exception of UK and some Eastern European countries, the rest of Europe hardly has much need for a US-dominated NATO as a symbolic instrument of deterrence. But is NATO even that effective as a political instrument? But should the US taxpayers keep paying for NATO because Georgia and the Ukraine have political, economic and strategic problems with Moscow? Norway and Denmark may be backing NATO as a means of deterring Russia, but how realistic is it to assume that Moscow will risk an all out war to attack either of those Scandinavian nations?

Should anyone be paying because of the ‘Islamic threat’ issue that the US primarily uses to keep conformity among its own population and among its allies? If France and UK want to launch a new era of aggressive imperialism in Africa and the Middle East, let them pay for their adventures and let them be deprived of the international political cover (and whatever legitimacy) that NATO offers.

Without the US, French, UK, and Germany defense industries lobbying, would NATO be around today? As NATO officials keep reminding the press:

“If we keep having wars that only a few countries want — in this case, Libya-France, and other places the United States, and God knows where it will be in the future — others will ask: Why should we pay for that?”

AUTHOR: Jon Kofas
E-MAIL: jonkofas [at]


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